WSA CEO Andrew Howard heads north to visit members 

WSA CEO Andrew Howard heads north to visit members 

At the beginning of February, Welsh Sports Association (WSA) CEO Andrew Howard travelled to North Wales to visit some of our valued members and to see first hand the excellent work that is being delivered to keep Wales active.  

The tour started in the North-East with a visit to Mike Welch, the Managing Director of Aura Leisure at their impressive Deeside Leisure Centre site, which is just one venue across Flintshire where Aura are operating and delivering sport. 

Andrew commended the remarkable efforts of Aura Leisure in Flintshire.

“Aura plays a central role in its community,” he noted. “Their offerings cater to all age groups and abilities, ranging from soft-play to skating (on ice and ramps) and from weight training to the National Exercise Referral Scheme. Moreover, they provide a diverse array of sports typically associated with leisure centres and oversee libraries and local playparks, reflecting their broad yet inclusive scope.”

The followiong day, Andrew travelled across the north Wales coast to meet with The Outdoor Partnership, Snowdonia Active, and Byw’n Iach. 

Starting his day at Plas Menai, Andrew met with The Outdoor Partnership and was very interested to learn about the social impact that the organisation can boast with a £7.12 return on every £1 invested in the organisation.  

Tracey Evans, the CEO, highlighted that in the previous year, 14,000 individuals in Wales participated in Outdoor Partnership initiatives. Tracey emphasised their increased emphasis on serving disadvantaged and minority groups, which aligns with Sport Wales’ goal of fostering an inclusive sports system. 

The next stop was a meeting with Snowdonia Active, a ‘not for profit’ organisation which operates as a consultancy delivering projects linked to outdoor recreation, tourism and conservation in Wales. The organisation was shortlisted for a WSA Sports Industry Award last year with their Babi-Actif project.  

Andrew expressed his admiration for the Snowdonia Active team when discussing the Babi-Actif project.

“Their dedication is remarkable,” he commented. “With 726 sessions conducted and nearly 2,000 parents engaged since its inception, their impact is undeniable. Feedback from 88% of parents indicates significant improvements in their health and well-being due to these sessions.” 

Finally, and before the worst of the snow threatened Gwynedd, Andrew met with Amanda Davies from Byw’n Iach. Observing activities in the Arfon Leisure Centre from school swimming to disability cycling and from weight training to small-sided football, Andrew was pleased to see another member delivering at the very core of its community.  

“One of the highlights of my trip was to see the recent investment into some outstanding, modern facilities for football and basketball in Caernarfon,” he added.  

The new full-sized 3G turf pitch is providing a modern facility for local schools, sports clubs and the wider community. The project has secured over £1m in funding including grants from WSA Partners Sport Wales and WSA Members, the Cymru Football Foundation. 

In summary, it was two days well spent in the North as Andrew witnessed the importance of our members in their communities as he enjoyed taking in the excellent and inclusive work being delivered to support the physical and mental health of the nation. 

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